The Beauty of Life. A Boat Journey -Philippines Style.

Sitting on a boat and it’s sticky hot. The motor is right beneath my feet. What separates us is what appears to be just a thin rickety layer of metal. The boat is packed (like a can of sardines) full of people. This rickety boat is a small one, that I’m almost positive, has been pieced together from recycled parts.

We begin our journey- just an hour’s ride this trip. It’s not long before the boat begins to sway and water seeps in through the slots that represent windows along the side. The people next to me quickly pull up these wooden slats that act as a makeshift shield preventing the passengers from getting soaked by the waves. Quickly the temperature rises while sweat droplets suddenly pool on our bodies. We are instructed to sit only inside the boat’s lower level where we must stay seated and I try to continue reading, but have to take a break because I begin to feel queasy.

My mind begins to wander as I close my eyes trying to relax in the heat & confined small space. I’m sitting next to  a very old lady with plenty of wrinkles decorating her skin. She’s speaking Tagalog to a younger version of herself sitting behind us ,and I assume it’s her daughter. She has dark chocolate brown eyes with matching brown skin. I just know she’s lived a long life. I wonder what her story is. Where has she been? What led her here today? She catches me glancing at her as we exchange smiles. I want to talk to her, but I also am concentrating hard to stay calm as my stomach is doing flips inside of me. I wonder where she’s headed today? I think about the beauty in each person’s life story. The joy, the pain, and the journey we each take. Each day an important one. Though, often the every day moments in life are forgotten…it’s each of these moments that make life so special.

The small port city of Dumaguete (in the Philippines) is a refreshing break from Korea’s technology craze. People around me use their old flip style phone. You know, the Nokia look-alike ones (top up/ pay as you go phones) to text their people. It’s quite the change from seeing everyone glued to their smartphone. Often, admittedly, myself included.

People doze asleep while I wonder how exactly they fall asleep so easily with the loud rumbling sound of the motor below and the squealing of parts just below my feet that continue propelling the boat forward.  Before long the hum of the motor makes my own eyes heavy as, I too, begin to drift off. It isn’t long before the “windows” are down and I can see land again. The sun is out and I see long white strips of stunning sand along the shore that is waiting to be explored. The water goes from deep sapphire blue to gorgeous aquamarine & mysterious mystical Siquijor island is just beckoning for our discovery.

–It’s moments like this I wish we could freeze forever in our mind. Ya know what I mean?

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Korea’s East Coast Road Trip Highlights.

There’s this large map of Korea that sits in our living room with little yellow stickers dotting the places we have visited in Korea. Each weekend, with a new adventure planned (and making it easy since we have a car!) our map slowly begun to be sprinkled with yellow dots around the country as each weekend continued to pass before our eyes. It wasn’t long before we noticed that our stickers were concentrated on much of the southern portion of Korea. Easier to reach since we’ve spent the last 16 months living on Korea’s southern peninsula.  Tom and I begun to plot what we would do on a big road trip up along the eastern coast of Korea since we hadn’t ever been there, but our map certainly needed some attention in that area. Using our Korean guidebooks (mostly Lonely Planet this time) we set our sights on a road trip together for a long weekend this past June. Our main purpose of this trip was to hike/camp as much as possible…Where Tom wrote about that here and here. We also had a few places we were interested in seeing along the way. So, here’s a few highlights of a long weekend in June filled with camping, hiking, sightseeing, and of course lots of adventures along the way!

We had our sights set on Seoraksan National Park & it surely didn’t disapoint. A must see in KOREA!

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Gangneung- The largest city in Gangwon-do that is home to lovely Gyeongpo Lake & beautiful Gyeongpo Beach which is the largest beach on the east coast of Korea at 1.8 km long! A place to relax, rent bikes, and lounge on the beach.

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Jeongdongjin- Fun place to check out! Highlights for us were: Unification Park, Beach with the train station on it, as well as checking out the cruise ship resort on a cliff.

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Odaesan National Park has some pretty unique temples and gorgeous hiking!

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Snapping photos at  random spots along highway 7! Such a scenic road that winds along the coast.

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Stopping to eat & explore Pohang along the coast.

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*We wish we would have brought our passports as you can drive your car and do a self guided tour along the Civilian Control Zone that spans 20km from the  North Korean border. You can visit places like : the Second Tunnel, Cheorwon Peace Observatory that lies just 1km from the DMZ, Woljeong-ri Station, and finally the former Labor Party’s headquarters. Tom & I learned this after we had already begun the road trip so we didn’t have our passports along! Also, we didn’t have time for the caves Hwaseongul/ Daegeumgul, but would have loved to check them out if time had allowed.

 

I never knew Korea would be so beautiful! Do you love road trips? What are some of your favorite memories from road tripping?!

A month from today we’re headed to…

Hi everyone!

I’ve been a bit MIA as of lately. It’s been busy over here with teaching as we are in the final stretch before summer vacation!!!!  The Korean school year is broken into two semesters. Semester one starts in March & goes until the end of July. Semester two runs from September to end of December. Next week my students have finals for this semester & I’ll be wrapping up my online distance learning classes. It’s nuts to me that July is already here. Without all the 4th of July decorations for sale (like it is in America) we often forget when the holiday’s are upon us. The 4th of July, for Tom and I, is usually spent in Minnesota at my dad’s house. We fish, we boat, water ski, go tubing, eat amazing food, watch the 4th of July parade, and best of all have TONS of crazy fireworks once the sun goes down. The 4th of July is my absolute favorite holiday of the year because I LOVE being on the lake with my family, and I love fireworks. It’s low stress, laid back, and it means summer is officially in full swing.

It’s hard to believe that our second year of teaching is just about 1/2 over & while it’s definitely hard to be away from family during the holiday’s we have a very exciting trip to look forward to.

 

In just 4 weeks we are headed to…

…The Philippines!!!! (Photo Source)

 

We plan on doing a few different places in the Philippines. Also, as an added bonus: we get to celebrate our 2nd anniversary there as it fell during our vacation time! We are SO excited to explore, learn, and be immersed in another culture.

Have you been to the Philippines before?

What is your favorite holiday?